Jim Crow Laws

It had occurred to Pecola some time ago that if her eyes, those eyes that held the pictures, and knew the sights-if those eyes of hers were different, that is to say, beautiful, she herself would be different. Her teeth were good, and at least her nose was not big and flat like some of those who were thought so cute. If she looked different, beautiful, maybe Cholly would be different, and Mrs.Breedlove too. Maybe they’d say, “Why, look at pretty-eyed Pecola. We mustn’t do bad things in front of those pretty eyes.”

Pretty eyes. Pretty blue eyes. Big blue pretty eyes. Run, Jip, Run. Jip runs, Alice runs. Alice has blue eyes. Jerry has blue eyes. Jerry runs. Alice runs. They run with their blue eyes. Four blue eyes. Four pretty blue eyes. Blue-sky eyes. Blue-like Mrs. Forrest’s blue blouse eyes. Morning-gloty-blue-eyes. Alice-and-Jerry-blue-storybook-eyes. 

Each night, without fail, she prayed for blue eyes.

Toni Morrison’s The Bluest Eye takes place in 1941 Ohio, almost 80 years after the emancipation proclamation. Pecola’s inner-thoughts and turmoil showcase the harsh reality of black life after slavery and during Jim Crow; her internalized racism stems from the abuse she suffers from both white and black people in her community which rides the coattails of colorism, racism, sexism, and violence from Antebellum America. In this quote from page 40, Pecola yearns for blue eyes (a usually white feature) thinking that whiteness would resolve her trauma.